Stefanik nails down top GOP job

Updated: May. 5, 2021 at 11:22 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWNY) - North country congresswoman Elise Stefanik is the very likely pick for a top job in the House of Representatives, multiple news sources report.

Stefanik would replace Liz Cheney, the current number 3 Republican, as the chair of the Republican conference in the House.

Cheney angered many of her fellow Republicans in the House by voting to impeach former president Trump because of the January 6 riots at the Capitol, and by continuing to feud with Trump over Trump’s claims the election was stolen from him.

A vote by Republicans to replace Cheney is likely as early as next Wednesday. The number 2 Republican in the House, Steve Scalise, said Wednesday morning he will back Stefanik for the job.

The New York Times reported the leader of the Republicans in the House, Kevin McCarthy, was likewise urging colleagues to support Stefanik, though doing it privately.

The Times called it “a remarkable show of force by the party’s top two leaders to run out a once-popular figure now deemed unacceptable by fellow Republicans because she has rejected Mr. Trump’s lies and refused to absolve him or the party of its role in perpetuating the false claims of a fraudulent election that fueled the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.”

CNN reported Stefanik is “moving swiftly” to lock up support.

Former president Trump endorsed Stefanik Wednesday morning, calling her a “tough and smart communicator.”

“Liz Cheney is a warmongering fool who has no business in the Republican Party Leadership,” Trump wrote.

“We want leaders who believe in the Make America Great Again Movement and prioritize the values of America First.

“Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice,” the ex-president noted.

Stefanik responded on Twitter, in her first public acknowledgement that she is seeking the job of Conference Chair.

“The fix is in,” one Republican lawmaker who spoke with Stefanik told CNN.

Unsurprisingly, Stefanik also picked up the backing of the state Conservative Party.

“Congresswoman Stefanik has the respect of her conference, and a positive, forward-looking vision for her party and nation,” Conservative Party chair Gerard Kassar said in as statement.

If Stefanik secures the number 3 job, it will cap a rise that in seven years has taken her from freshman lawmaker to a power broker in Washington. It will also mark her transition from “new generation Republican,” as she presented herself when first elected in 2014, to acolyte to former President Trump.

Stefanik’s popularity in Trump world - coupled with her proven ability to raise vast amounts of money - makes her a formidable force in Republican politics in 2021.

Stefanik defended former President Trump during his first impeachment, and was one of many Republican lawmakers to question the results of the 2020 election, even long after election day had passed.

Indeed, in the hours after the insurrection on January 6, despite the destruction to the Capitol and the threat posed by rioters to Congress, Stefanik continued to challenge the election results in one state, and supported challenges in two others.

If Stefanik wins the number 3 post, it will very likely mean good things for the north country in the form of money and services from the federal government.

CNN reported Wednesday that the vote to replace Cheney will be by secret ballot and will only take a simple majority, both of which will make it easier to replace Cheney.

Cheney said through a spokesman that “This moment is about much more than a House leadership fight,” but CNN reported she will not fight her ouster.

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